Wang ch‘ung lun-hêng miscellaneous essays Traduits et annotés par Alfred forke



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1 Shuking Part V, Book VI, 16 and 18. (Legge, Classics Vol. III, Part II, p. 359) [Couvreur].

2 A place said to have been situated in P‘u-chou-fu (Shansi).

3 Cf. Shuking Part IV, Book V, 9 (Legge, Classics Vol. III, Part I, p. 203) [Couvreur] and Shi-chi chap. 3, p. 6r. (Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. I, p. 189).

4 Shuking Part V, Book XVI, 7 (Legge, Classics Vol. III, Part II, p. 477) [Couvreur].

5 A scholar of the 1st cent. B. C. Vid. Vol. I, p. 448.

1 See Shuking loc. cit. Book VI, 19 [Legge] [Couvreur, §19], where we have a different reading : [] ‘Heaven sent down rain’ instead of [] ‘Heaven stopped the rain’, of our text, which latter is preferable.

2 Cf. Vol. I, p. 328, where the same story is told of the Shang emperor Kao Tsung = Wu Ting, 1324-1266 B. C. and p. 161 Note 4 where it is likewise ascribed to Kao Tsung. T‘ai Mou reigned from 1637-1563 B. C. According to the Shi-chi chap. 3, p. 7r. (Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. I, p. 190) this prodigy happened under T‘ai Mou, not Kao Tsung.

3 See Vol. I, p. 328, Note 5 and p. 153.

4 An argument merely used rhetorically to combat the view that thunder and rain stopped before King Ch‘êng had repented, for Wang Ch‘ung holds that Heaven never acts on purpose.

5 Expression quoted from the Chung-yung XVIII, 3 (Legge, Classics Vol. I, p. 401). The three persons raised to royal dignity after their death are the father and the ancestors of the founder of the Chou dynasty. A similar practice has been followed by later dynasties, the reigning Manchu dynasty included.

1 A range of mountains in the north of Ssechuan.

2 The Ancestral King, King Chi, and King Wên, mentioned above.

3 White pheasants and aromatic plants were presented as tribute to the Duke of Chou by the Yüeh-shang and the Japanese. Cf. Vol. I, p. 505.

4 This episode is found in the Liki Book II, Sect. I, Part I, 18 (Legge, Liki Vol. I, p. 128) [Couvreur].

5 Tsêng Tse was not directly responsible for the mat, the soi-disant too great honour was conferred upon him by the chief of the Chi family, just as the excessive funeral rites were performed by King Ch‘êng for Chou Kung.


6 Quoted from Analects IX, 11 [Couvreur].

1 It was improper for a nobleman to offer a sacrifice reserved for the king.

2 A man of Lu who once asked Confucius about ceremonies.

3 Quotation from Analects III, 6 [Couvreur]. There is a great discrepancy in Legge’s translation, who takes [] for a particle, whereas Wang Ch‘ung explains it as a name viz. that of Confucius’ disciple Tsêng Tse.

4 Cf. Vol. I, p. 128.

5 See Vol. I, p. 136.

6 See Vol. I, p. 316, Note 3.

1 Only the dream of Wu Wang is mentioned in the Liki, not that of Wên Wang.

2 [] ling. This explanation is also taken from the Liki loc. cit.

3 Famous minister of Duke Huan of Ch‘i, 7th cent. B. C.

1 i. e., we would be savages, following their customs.

2 Quotation from Analects XIV, 18 [Couvreur].


3 The name of an extravagant tower built by Kuan Chang.

4 Cf. Analects III, 22 [Couvreur].

5 See above p. 24, Note 6.

6 The inventor of writing, cf. Vol. I, p. 87, Note 4.

7 The inventor of carriages, cf. Vol. I, p. 87, Note 5.

8 In B. C. 636 after nineteen years of exile.

9 I could not find any reference to this in the Tso-chuan or the Shi-chi, nor do the encyclopedias know a man of the name of Mi Mê. Both words are family names, and Mi is also an old State in Hupei and Hunan. If we take to be the surname of the person, Mi might be his country. The two historical works only inform us that Fan proposed leaving his nephew, but was reconciled. Tso-chuan, Duke Hsi 24th year [Couvreur].

1 A minister in Sung.

2 The steward of Hua Ch‘ên’s nephew.

3 The gist of this account is contained in the Tso-chuan, Duke Hsiang 17th year (Legge, Classics Vol. V, Part II, p. 473) [Couvreur], but the two versions differ in some details. In the Classic the Master of the Left does not menace Hua Ch‘ên and even intercedes for him with the duke. Nothing is said about his climbing over a wall.

4 Vid. Vol. I, p. 295 seq.

1 Like T‘ang who overthrew the Hsia and Wên Wang who destroyed the Shang dynasty, both reputed great sages.

2 1191-1155 B. C.

3 Yi hung up a sack filled with blood and shooting at it, declared that he was shooting at Heaven.

4 Two rivers in Shensi.

5 The passage seems to be culled from the Shi-chi chap. 3, p. 10r. (Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. I, p. 198) where, however, the flogging of the Earth is not mentioned.

6 An author of the Han time, cf. Vol. I, p. 87.

7 A chapter of the Shuking Part V, Book IV, 20 (Legge, Classics Vol. III, Part II, p. 334) [Couvreur] where different methods of solving doubts are given.

1 At different times different qualities are appreciated, and scholars use different methods for obtaining advancement.

2 Chieh, the last emperor of the Hsia dynasty, as usual the representative of bad government, and Yao a synonym for an excellent ruler.

3 Cf. Vol. I, p. 140, Note 2.

4 First minister of Fu Ch‘ai, king of Wu, 495-473 B. C. See Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. IV, p. 523 [css: p. 21 ?].

5 Minister of Ch‘êng T‘ang, the founder of the Shang dynasty.

6 On Viscount Chi see Vol. I, p. 354. He was thrown into prison for having remonstrated against the excesses of his master Chou Hsin, the last emperor of the Shang dynasty.

1 Cf. Vol. I, p. 155, Note 2.

2 The two States where the philosopher passed a great deal of his life.

3 Two of the eight famous steeds of King Mu.

4 A famous charioteer.

5 Cf. Vol. I, p. 130, Note 3.

6 A horse running a thousand Li a day, an impossible task, the quickest couriers making but 5-600 Li with many relays.

7 A hermit, see Vol. I, p. 439, Note 1.

8 Viz. Yao, prince of T‘ang.

9 Cf. Vol. I, p. 168, Note 2.

1 Observe the gradation : [][][], rendered by emperor, ruler, king. Wang Ch‘ung wishes to express by these terms three different degrees of sagehood.


2 This statement in the mouth of a Chinese is little short of blasphemy, for the four men thus described are universally held to be China’s greatest sages, even superior to Confucius. But we must refer it to what has been said above on the different degrees of virtue, which may be more or less pure and more or less refined. The highest degree is ascribed to Hsü Yu and Po Yi only, compared to whom even Yao and Shun appear coarse and vulgar.

3 Chuang Tse makes Pei Jên Wu Tsê a friend of Shun who wished to resign the empire to him, but the former declined and drowned himself. (Cf. Giles, Chuang Tse p. 382.)

4 According to Chuang Tse, Po Ch‘êng Tse Kao had been a vassal of Yao and Shun, but disliked ’s system of government. (Giles eod. p. 142.)

5 Ou Shang Yang see Vol. I, p. 171, Note 2.

1 The groom of Confucius who spoke to the country people who had taken away his master’s horse. Cf. Vol. I, p. 69 and Huai Nan Tse XVIII, 19r.

2 A general of Ch‘u who died in B.C. 575. The story here alluded is told in Huai Nan Tse XII, 15r.

There was a clever thief much esteemed by Tse Fan, who had a faible for all kinds of skill. When the army of Ch‘u under Tse Fan’s command was pressed hard by the outnumbering forces of Ch‘i, the thief in three consecutive nights entered the camp of the enemies and stole a cap, a pillow, and a hair-pin. The soldiers of Ch‘i became nervous, and said that unless they retreated the thief would steal their heads next night. Then the army of Ch‘i went home. Huai Nan Tse calls the general Tse Fa.



3 T‘ien Wên of Ch‘i, Prince of Mêng Chang. The story of the cock-crowing will be found on p. 132.

4 On the final downfall of this minion see Vol. I, p. 309.


5 A wife of Huang Ti. Cf. Vol. I, p. 473, Note 3.

6 Properly speaking, Wu Yen is not the name of the lady in question who was a native of a place Wu-yen in Shantung. Her name is Chung-Li Ch‘un. At the age of forty years, she was still unmarried, but so impressed King Hsüan of Ch‘i, 342-323 B. C., by her intelligence, that he made her his wife in spite of her ugliness. See Giles, Biogr. Dict. No. 519. The Lieh-nü-ch‘uan (quoted in the Pei-wên-yün-fu) relates that she herself offered her services as a palace servant to the king, who afterwards married her.

1 The T‘ai-p‘ing yü-lan chap. 488, p. 4r., quotes this passage.


2 Ch‘in Hsi recommended a friend to Duke Mu of Ch‘in and committed suicide when his advice was not accepted. His death impressed the duke so much, that he took the protégé of Ch‘in Hsi into his service. This story is told in Vol. I, p. 502.

Of Pao Shu we know that he recommended his friend Kuan Chung to Duke Huan of Ch‘i.



1 Fatalism pure and simple.

1 The two Chinese terms are synonymous and might be interchanged like their English equivalents.

2 Quarrel of friends.

3 Here again our author forgets his own theory that honour and happiness are not won by excellent qualities, but are the free gift of fate.

4 Envy of less successful rivals.

5 Strife through roughness of character.

6 Unfair competition among officials. There is no great difference with the second annoyance which, however, refers more to private life.

7 Natural antipathy of the vicious against honest men.

1 Favouritism.

2 All metaphors denoting the insidious attacks of backbiters.

3 Calumniation must be a very frequent trait of the Chinese character, since in all the six cases those dissatisfied resort to it.

4 A verse quoted in somewhat altered form from the Shi-chi chap. 84, p. 6r. where it is spoken by Ch‘ü Yuan before his death.

5 Cf. p. 147.

1 A famous lute-player of old who played so well, that a friend of his actually could see the scenes which he put into music, such as hills and water.

2 See p. 31, Note 6.

3 A queen of Ch‘u, 4th cent. B. C.

4 The king of Wei had sent the king of Ch‘u a beautiful girl whom the latter liked very much. His consort Chêng Hsiu, in order to destroy her rival, told her that the king loved her, but disliked her nose, and that she had better cover it with a kerchief. The unhappy girl followed this advice. When the king expressed his astonishment the queen informed him that the girl could not endure the smell of the king’s breath. This enraged the king so much, that he ordered the girl to have her nose cut off. Han Fei Tse (T‘ai-p‘ing yü-lan chap. 367, p.3v.).

5 An officer of T‘sai.

6 A prince of Wei, died B. C. 244.

7 Common people are not exposed to the dust of envious slander or to hurricanes caused by their rivals.

8 Cf. p. 31, Note 3.

9 Since the drowning in the Yangtse seems to refer to Wu Tse Hsü, whose body was thrown into the Chien-t‘ang river or the Yangtse, the jumping into the Yellow River must be said of the violent death of Têng Hsi, of whom we merely know that he was put to death, but not how.

10 A sophist of the 6th cent. B. C., on whom see my article ‘The Chinese Sophists’ p. 11 (Journal of China Branch, R. Asiat. Society Vol. XXXIV, 1901-02).

11 Cf. p. 1, Note 1.

1 Cf. p. 7, Note 4.

2 The smallest defects are thus magnified.

3 A place in Hunan. Cf. Vol. I, p. 179, Note 6.

4 One of the nine circuits of comprising parts of Chili and Shantung.


5 Figuratively said of men.

1 Their original nature is essentially the same, but develops differently. Cf. Vol. I, p. 390.

1 Properly speaking these Nine Virtues are eighteen. According to the Shuking Part II, Book III, 3 (Legge, Classics Vol. III, Part I, p. 71) [Couvreur] they are :

« Affability combined with dignity ; mildness combined with firmness ; bluntness combined with respectfulness ; aptness for government combined with reverence ; docility combined with boldness : straightforwardness combined with gentleness ; easiness combined with discrimination ; vigour combined with sincerity ; and valour combined with righteousness.



1 All editions have [], which should be [], unless Wang Ch‘ung wishes to designate those impostors who have sneaked among the virtuous, but that would be somewhat forced.

2 Too small to be punished.

1 Too great to be pardoned. The passage is quoted from the Shuking Part II, Book II, 12 (Legge, Classics Vol. III, Part I, p. 59) [Couvreur].

2 A fundamental principle of all penal law, based on the difference of dolus and culpa.

3 See Vol. I, p. 304, Note 8.

4 Yen, Chao, Han, Wei, Ch‘i, and Ch‘u.

5 See Vol. I, p. 115, Note 2.

6 The three kingdoms into which the State of Ch‘in was divided by Hsiang Yü in B. C. 206, viz. Yung, Sai, and Ti. Since Wang Ch‘ung here speaks of the 4th cent. B. C., the time of Su Ch‘in and Chang Yi, when the Three Ch‘in did not yet exist, and since by their creation Ch‘in did not become more powerful, but broke up, I suppose that [] here is a misprint for [] San Chin, the Three Chin States : Han, Wei, and Chao, into which the once powerful State of Chin split in B. C. 453, thus enabling Ch‘in to come to the front.

7 Shi-chi chap. 69.

8 Shi-chi chap. 70.


9 The time of the contending States beginning in B. C. 480.

10 See Vol. I, p. 130, Note 3.

11 Vid. Vol. I, p. 318.

1 Elsewhere Wang Ch‘ung says that all these things are the outcome of fate alone.

2 Wang Ch‘ung apparently sees in the two politicians Chang Yi and Su Ch‘in cunning schemers, but not worthies or virtuous men. The Chinese still cling to the idea that moral laws hold good for politics also, and have not yet accepted the phantom of political morality, another name for the right of the strongest. They call a liar a liar, even though he has been a great statesman who did all his misdeeds for the welfare of his country. Thus most Europeans admire Ch‘in Shih Huang Ti, but every Chinese detests him.

3 [] probably the title of a lost chapter of the Lun-hêng.


1 So says the one who seeks to frustrate the promotion of X by raising all kinds of fictitious difficulties.

1 [] political intriguing, forming and breaking alliances.

2 An ascetic philosopher of the 4th cent. B. C.

3 Abridged from Shi-chi chap. 70, p. 2r.

1 Their exalted positions have many dangers, and they easily come to fall.

2 A vassal of Yao who resigned his fief, whenbecame emperor, and took to agriculture. Yü is reported to have visited and questioned him on his fields. See Chuang Tse V, 4v. (Giles, Chuang Tse p. 142). Cf. p. 33, Note 2.

3 An appellative of Ch‘ên Chung Tse, a scholar of Ch‘i, mentioned by Mencius. Cf. Vol. I, p. 427. Wu Ling Tse is reputed the author of a short philosophical treatise in 12 paragraphs, contained in the Tse-shu po-chia Vol. 51. According to Liu Hsiang he wrote a work in 12 chapters (Pei-wen-yün-fu chap. 25). From the last paragraph of the work still extant we learn that he abandoned his post as minister of Ch‘u to water other people’s garden. At all events he was a rather extravagant recluse.

4 Wang Chung Tse or Wang Liang, famous for his learning and excellent character, lived in the time of Kuang Wu Ti, 25-57 A. D. He declined the high offices conferred upon him owing to sickness.

5 A place in Yen-chou-fu, Shantung.

6 The Li-tai ming-hsien lieh-nü shih-hsing p‘u calls the man : So-Lu and informs us that Chün Yang was his style, and that he was a native of Tung-chün, not of Tung-tu. The Shang-yu-lu again writes So-Lo. As his name both biographical dictionaries give Fang. So-Lu Fang was appointed governor of Lo-yang in A. D. 30. Twice he resigned owing to bad health. The second time in A. D. 55 he did not obey the summons of the emperor Kuang Wu Ti, who then sent a sedan-chair for him, and after the audience made him a grant of 2000 bushels of rice.

7 A territory in Honan.

1 Cf. p. 147, Note 3.

2 The minister of works under Yao, subsequently punished by Shun (Shuking Part II, Book I, 12, Legge, Classics Vol. III, Part I, p. 39) [Couvreur].


3 Analects V, 4 [Couvreur].

1 Only socialists would agree to this.

2 Analects XI, 16 [Couvreur].
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